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Introduction to Portuguese Adverbs

To be more precise and descriptive in your Portuguese conversations, it’s important to master Portuguese advérbiosadverbs . But what are they? Simply put, adverbs are words which modify other words – verbs, adjectives, and sometimes even other adverbs. They add to the meaning or clarify the manner in which a word applies to the rest of the sentence.

Modifying Verbs

When an adverb modifies a verb, it tells us how the action is being carried out.
O João canta bem.João sings well.
The adverb bemwell tells us more about the manner in which João carries out the action (singing).

Modifying Adjectives

When an adverb modifies an adjective, it tells us how, or to what degree, the adjective applies to its noun.
A Maria é extremamente talentosa.Maria is extremely talented.
The adverb extremamenteextremely modifies the adjective talentosatalented to tell us that Maria is not only talented, but the degree to which she is talented is very high. Keep an eye out for other Portuguese adverbs that end in -mente, as they often correspond to English adverbs that end in -ly.

Modifying Other Adverbs

Just as with adjectives, when an adverb modifies another adverb, it modifies the degree or manner in which the other adverb is used.
Não entendi nada, ela fala muito depressa.I didn’t understand anything, she talks very quickly.
The adverb muitovery is modifying the adverb depressaquickly , so not only do we know how she talks (quickly), but also the degree to which she does so (very).

Adverbial Phrases

There are also locuções adverbiaisadverbial phrases , which are simply phrases made up of more than one word that act as an adverb.
Não tarda vou-me embora.I’ll be leaving in a bit.
In Portuguese, just as in English, there are many forms of adverbs and adverbial phrases that modify words on many different levels: time, place, mode, quantity, intensity, affirmation, denial, doubt, and exclusivity.
Oh, and remember: adverbs are always invariable! Unlike many other Portuguese words, this means that they only have one form. In other words, they do not change form based on the number or gender of the words they modify.

Types of Adverbs

There are so many different types of Portuguese adverbs and we will cover (and let you practice!) each type throughout multiple units: Adverbs 1 (this unit), Adverbs 2, and Adverbs 3. These include adverbs of place, adverbs of manner, adverbs of time, adverbs of degree, and more. Here are some of the topics we’ll cover:

Comments

    • No, Barry, the translation is correct 🙂 It means that you’re leaving soon. Think of it as saying “Not long from now, I’m leaving”.

  • Is it worth while, in translations, to consider the literal translation and then the nearest English meaning? I feel it would!

  • Hi, I have a general question related to adverbs. Are they all interchangeable? For example, “se calhar” and “talvez”, they both mean maybe, so can I use whichever one simply comes to mind, or are there specific rules governing when and how these and other adverbs should be used?

    • Olá! Adverbs that are true synonyms can be used interchangeably, but may require adjustments in sentence structure despite having the exact same meaning. That’s the case with “se calhar” and “talvez”, where the former requires the indicative mood, but the latter requires the subjunctive mood.

      For example:
      – Maybe I can go -> Se calhar eu consigo ir [present indicative] = Talvez eu consiga ir [present subjunctive]

  • Hello! Is there a difference between jogar and brincar? They both mean “to play,” right? Is there some distinction between them?

    • In European Portuguese we usually use “jogar” when we refer to a specific game and “brincar” when we refer to any other kids’ play that is not a game.

      Examples:

      Playing Hide and Seek: Jogar às escondidas
      Playing cards: Jogar às cartas
      Playing darts: Jogar aos dardos
      Playing football: Jogar futebol OR Jogar à bola
      Playing Monopoly: Jogar Monopólio

      Playing with dolls: Brincar com bonecas
      Playing husbands and wives: Brincar aos maridos e mulheres
      Playing shops: Brincar às lojas
      Playing with toy cars: Brincar com carrinhos (carro + inhos)
      Playing in the park: Brincar no parque

      Playground: Parque infantil or Recreio (recess at school)

  • Could you please explain the correct situation to use these words when both seem to mean ‘only’ ?

    • I suppose you’re referring to the expression “apenas e só”. If so, it’s just an idiomatic expression that it’s used when you want to reinforce the idea of “only”. It’s like the English expression “one and only”!

  • Thanks Relógio, I will make a note of that phrase!
    However, I was actually referring to something I did not understand form Adverbs Lesson one.
    The translation of ‘I only like you’ is ‘Eu só gosto de ti’ but for ‘Only I was in the room’ the Portuguese is given as ‘Apenas eu estava na sala’ . I was wondering if these words for ‘only’ are used interchangeably or in specific circumstances. Thanks again 😊

    • Ah! Sorry for the confusion. From what I can think of, yes, “só” and “apenas” are synonyms and therefore they can be interchangeable. I’d say most of the times, because when it comes to European Portuguese is always tricky to say “always”… There’s ALWAYS that one exception to the rule! 😉

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